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									Women for Smart Growth

Framework for discussion and report

The Women for Smart Growth workshop builds on the eight priority areas concerning the
improvement of women’s position and involvement in ICTs, the Digital Age, and the Digital
Agenda, proposed at the conference Women in Science, Engineering and Technology in the
Digital Age, Budapest 6-9 March 2011.

The background of this workshop is, however, much more far-reaching. It also builds on the
series of conferences, events and activities promoting more full engagement of women in
ICTs led by the Commission, and, specifically, by the DG Information Society over the last 5
years. Of key impact among in these endeavours have been the DG INFSO’s Shadowing Day
for Girls scheme and the Code of Best Practices for Women in ICTs. These initiatives won
wide recognition, including from the Financial Times, which during the 2009 conference
interviewed the girls who participated in the shadowing scheme that year to uncover their
relationship with digital technologies and what influenced their career decisions.

The interview with the FT revealed a critical generational, geographical and skills gap that
exists in society today with regard to the attitudes towards ICTs and the level of engagement
with digital technologies. The principal concern with regard to the Digital Agenda is that
whilst young women (and men) have completely embraced ICTs innovation as users, they
have been increasingly rejecting ICTs oriented careers. This trend has important policy
implications with regard to the innovation aspirations contained within the Digital Agenda, the
EU2020 Strategy, and the hopes for new ways of promoting societal and economic
development in Europe, linked to R&D, following the recent financial crisis.

The EU 2020 Strategy has multiple horizontal gender aspects, as well as multiple roles and
expectations for ICT’s to play: as an employment market, an enabler of innovation, a source
of new innovation ideas, a tool for taking ideas to markets, and a driver for cultural change.

To make effective progress towards the Digital Agenda, Europe can draw on number of
strengths that are already, which provide important competitive advantage, for example, its
highly educated and trained women (e.g. 52% university graduates); innovation and
entrepreneurial cultures; experience of gender mainstreaming; and women’s share of the
markets for innovations and products.

Importantly, the growing participation of women in employment, which achieved a 2.1%
trend growth in the Eurozone over the last decade, and its consequent impact on economy
(‘womenomics’), has created new champions of gender equality actions among economics
researchers, in places such as Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and World Economic Forum,
Harvard Business School. Recent reports have recommended gender equality measures as
“possibly the most important action” - better than quantitative easing and other macro policies
- that policy makers could take to promote long-term sustainable growth.

The Women for Smart Growth workshop is therefore is very timely.

Aims of the Workshop

The aim of the Workshop is to consider policy framework for effective mainstreaming of
gender in the Digital Age in order to translate the priority areas identified in Budapest into a
cohesive Gender Action Plan for Women for Smart Growth.

The GAP will provide a common basis for planning specific programmes, projects and
interventions, in order to ensure their greater integration and impact.

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